Testimony in opposition to House Bill 5012
Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee
February 9, 2011
By Peter Sprigg
Senior Fellow for Policy Studies
Family Research Council
Some advocates of same-sex "marriage" scoff at the idea that redefining marriage could harm anyone. But there are numerous ways in which society could be harmed. Most of these effects would become evident only in the long run, but several would occur immediately.
- Taxpayers, consumers, and businesses would be forced to subsidize homosexual relationships.
Currently, some employers already offer "domestic partner" benefits to same-sex couples as a matter of choice. But if homosexual couples are granted the full legal status of civil marriage, then employers who do not want to grant spousal benefits to homosexual partners--whether out of principle, or simply because of a prudent economic judgment-would be coerced by court orders to do so. You, as a taxpayer, consumer, or small business owner, would be forced to bear the expense of subsidizing homosexual relationships--including their higher health care costs.
- Schools would teach that homosexual relationships are identical to heterosexual ones.
Just months after same-sex couples began to legally "marry" in Massachusetts in 2004, National Public Radio interviewed Deb Allen, a lesbian who teaches eighth-grade sex education. Allen now feels "emboldened" in teaching a "gay-friendly" curriculum. According to NPR, her lessons include descriptions of homosexual sex given "thoroughly and explicitly with a chart." Allen declared, "If somebody wants to challenge me, I'll say, 'Give me a break. It's legal now.'"
- Freedom of conscience and religious liberty would be threatened.
Religious liberty applies not only to formal houses of worship, but to para-church ministries, religious educational and social service organizations, and individual believers trying to do their work and live their lives in accordance with their faith. These, more than your pastor or parish priest, are the entities whose religious liberty is at risk.
For example, when Catholic Charities in Boston stayed true to principle and refused to place children for adoption with same-sex couples, they were told by the state of Massachusetts that they could no longer do adoptions at all.
When a faith-based camp refused to rent facilities for a lesbian "civil union" ceremony, they were stripped of their tax exemption. Religious physicians, psychologists, social workers, and marriage counselors could be denied licensing if they fail to treat opposite- sex and same-sex couples as identical.
Religious educational institutions are at risk. Yeshiva University, a Jewish school in New York City, was forced to allow same-sex "domestic partners" to live in married-student housing.
It would be a tragic irony if Rhode Island, the forerunner of religious liberty in America, were to become a forerunner of its erosion or destruction.
There would also be:
The first three long-term harms relate to the fundamental public purposes of marriage-facilitating responsible procreation and child-rearing.
- Fewer children would be raised by a married mother and father.
Legalization of homosexual "marriage" would mean that, for the first time in history, society would be placing its highest stamp of official government approval on the deliberate creation of permanently motherless or fatherless households for children.
Scholarly literature leaves no doubt about the ideal family form for children. It consists of a mother and father who are committed to one another in marriage. Children raised by their married mother and father experience lower rates of numerous social pathologies.
A closely related harm is that:
- More children would grow up fatherless.
Most children who live with only one biological parent will live with their mothers. This is true both of single-parent households and of homosexual couples raising children. Same-sex "marriage" would thus result in an increase in the number of children who suffer the specific negative consequences of fatherlessness.
For example, research has shown that boys without fathers suffer higher risks of incarceration, while girls without fathers are at elevated risk for early sexual activity and adolescent pregnancy." Or, as one scholar puts it, fatherlessness results in "more boys with guns" and "more girls with babies."
Some lesbians are deliberately creating fatherless children through artificial reproductive technology. Yet a recent study of children conceived through sperm donation found they are more likely to struggle with delinquency, substance abuse, and depression. Remarkably, 38% of donor offspring born to lesbian couples in the study agreed that "it is wrong deliberately to conceive a fatherless child."
- Birth rates would fall.
The most fundamental task of any society is to reproduce itself. That is why virtually every human society until the present day has given a privileged social status called "marriage" to male-female sexual relationships-the only type capable of resulting in natural procreation.
Extending "marriage" to homosexual couples would eliminate any incentive to form life-long, potentially procreative (i.e., opposite-sex) relationships. The long-term result would be that fewer such life-long relationships would be formed, fewer such couples would choose to procreate, and fewer babies would be born.
There is already evidence of at least a correlation between low birth rates and the legalization of same-sex "marriage." Four of the five states that permit same-sex "marriage" rank within the bottom eight out of all fifty states in both birth rate and fertility rate.
Demographers now warn that declining birth rates lead to an aging population, with negative results such as threats to the solvency of Social Security and Medicare.
The next long-term effects have to do with the significant differences, documented in the research, between homosexual relationships and heterosexual marriages in the areas of commitment to, fidelity within, and the permanence of relationships.
For example, research shows that:
- Homosexuals are less likely to enter committed relationships.
Even where legal recognition is available to same-sex couples (whether through same-sex civil "marriages," "civil unions," or "domestic partnerships"), relatively few same-sex couples even bother to seek such recognition. Another way of putting this is that homosexuals are far more likely than heterosexuals to reject the institution of marriage or its legal equivalent.
In Massachusetts, nearly half of same-sex couples rejected marriage, a rate more than five times higher than the 9% of opposite-sex couples who did so.
- Homosexuals are less likely to have monogamous and sexually exclusive relationships.
Among married heterosexuals, having sexual relations with anyone other than one's spouse is still considered a grave breach of trust and violation of the marriage covenant.
Yet research shows that the same cannot be said of homosexuals-particularly of homosexual men. One study in the Netherlands showed that homosexual men with a steady partner had an average of eight sexual partners per year outside the primary relationship.
Another finding is that:
- Homosexual partners are less likely to remain committed for a lifetime.
Lawrence Kurdek, a homosexual psychologist, has declared that after extensive research, "it is safe to conclude that gay and lesbian couples dissolve their relationships more frequently than heterosexual couples, especially heterosexual couples with children."
A study of same-sex couples in Massachusetts found that after only a year or less of "marriage," more than a third of the male couples and nearly half of the female couples had "seriously discussed" ending their relationship. A study in Sweden found that the divorce risk in partnerships of men is 50 percent higher than in heterosexual marriages, and the divorce risk in partnerships of women is double that of men-thus making lesbian "divorces" almost three times as likely as heterosexual ones.
What do these three factors mean?
The so-called "conservative" argument for homosexual marriage suggests that granting marriage to homosexual couples would make their relationships change to resemble the traditional ideal. However, the experience of jurisdictions that have recognized these relationships, and even the open declarations of many homosexuals themselves, make it seem likely that the opposite would occur. If homosexual relationships are held up to society as a fully equal part of the social ideal that is called "marriage," then the value of commitment, sexual fidelity, and permanence in relationships will further erode-even among heterosexuals. The long-term result would be three harms to society:
- Fewer people would marry.
- Fewer people would remain monogamous and sexually faithful.
- Fewer people would remain married for a lifetime.
The final harm is that we would be placed on a slippery slope toward future redefinitions of marriage. Specifically:
- Demands for legalization of polygamy would grow.
If the natural sexual complementarity of a man and a woman and the theoretical procreative capacity of an opposite-sex union are to be discarded as principles central to the definition of marriage, then what is left? If love and companionship are the only necessary elements of marriage, why should other relationships that provide love, companionship, and a lifelong commitment not also be recognized as "marriages"-including relationships between adults and children, or between close blood relatives, or between three or more adults?
There is far more precedent cross-culturally for polygamy as an accepted marital structure than there is for homosexual "marriage." There is also a genuine movement for polygamy or "polyamory" in some circles.
This argument is already being pressed in the courts. If homosexual "marriage" is not stopped now, we will be having the exact same debate about "plural" marriages only one generation from now.
 Maggie Gallagher, "Banned in Boston: The coming conflict between same-sex marriage and religious liberty," The Weekly Standard Vol. 11, Issue 33, May 15, 2006; online at: http://weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/012/191kgwgh.asp
 Jill P. Capuzzo, "Group Loses Tax Break Over Gay Union Issue," The New York Times, September 18, 2007, p. B2. Online at: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/18/nyregion/18grove.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=Ocean%20Grove%20Camp%20Meeting%20&%20civil%20union&st=cse
 Levin v. Yeshiva University, New York Court of Appeals, 96 N.Y.2d 484, 754 N.E.2d 1099, 730 N.Y.S.2d 15, July 2, 2001.
 Cynthia C. Harper and Sara S. McLanahan, "Father Absence and Youth Incarceration," Journal of Research on Adolescence 14(3), 2004, p. 388.
 Bruce J. Ellis, John E. Bates, Kenneth A. Dodge, David M. Fergusson, L. John Horwood, Gregory S. Pettit, Lianne Woodward, "Does Father Absence Place Daughters at Special Risk for Early Sexual Activity and Teenage Pregnancy?" Child Development Vol. 74, Issue 3, May 2003; abstract online at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1467-8624.00569/abstract.
 David Blankenhorn, Fatherless America: Confronting Our Most Urgent Social Problem (New York: BasicBooks, 1995), p. 45.
 Elizabeth Marquardt, Norval D. Glenn, and Karen Clark, My Daddy's Name is Donor: A New Study of Young Adults Conceived Through Sperm Donation (New York: Institute for American Values, 2010) p. 9.
 Ibid., Table 2, p. 110.
 Joyce A. Martin, Brady E. Hamilton, Paul D. Sutton, Stephanie J. Ventura, T. J. Mathews, Sharon Kirmeyer, and Michell J. K. Osteman, U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, National Vital Statistics System, "Births: Final Data for 2007," National Vital Statistics Reports Vol. 58, No. 24, August, 2010, Table 11. Rankings calculated by the author.
 Lawrence Kurdek, "Are Gay and Lesbian Cohabiting Couples Really Different from Heterosexual Married Couples?" Journal of Marriage and Family 66 (November 2004): 896.
 Esther D. Rothblum, Kimberly F. Balsam, and Sondra E. Solom on, "Comparison of Same-Sex Couples Who Were Married in Massachusetts, Had Domestic Partnerships in California, or Had Civil Unions in Vermont," Journal of Family Issues 29 (January 2008): Table 2, p. 64.
 Gunnar Andersson, Turid Noack, Ane Seiestad, and Harald Weedon-Fekjaer, "Divorce-Risk Patterns in Same-Sex 'Marriages' in Norway and Sweden," paper presented at the 2004 Annual Meeting of the Population Association of America (April 3, 2004), p. 16; see also Table 5, p. 28; online at http://paa2004.princton.edu/download.asp?submissionId=40208.